tv Cross Talk RT September 13, 2017 10:29am-11:01am EDT
very serious situation and people have been much more to say. in any conflicts to day. hello and welcome to cross talk where all things are considered i'm peter lavelle candidate donald trump ran on a campaign that not only question many foreign policy orthodoxies but also lashed out against neo conservative views of the world today the president is surrounded by men in uniform some are calling this a soft coup. cross
talking trumps generals i'm joined by my guest michael o'hanlon in washington he is a senior fellow at the brookings institution also in washington we have thomas powell he's an independent economist policy analyst and author of from financial crisis to stagnation and in london we cross to patrick and he is a journalist writer and founder of the news website twenty first century wired dot com all right gentlemen crosstalk rules in effect that means you can jump in anytime you want and i always appreciate thomas let me go to you first in washington there are a lot of people that would claim and i think with good credence that the trumpet ministrations foreign policy is just a mirror with maybe with different reflections of the foreign policy that we had under george w. bush and barack obama so thomas in washington how do you see that. peter i and in short brief yes there is a considerable continuity at this stage donald trump has now signed on for the neo
con platform so that people understand what the neo con view of the world is that it comes out of after the fall of the soviet union a view emerged on the right to begin with that never again would there be any power that could challenge the united states as had done the former soviet union. trump is now on board for that it's now a bipartisan consensus here it's more open amongst republicans but democrats are on board they sort of hide it a little bit with talk of regime change in the name of democratic advance but that's more cover than substance you see the democratic support many democrats voted for the iraq war democrats and obama and hillary clinton were responsible for regime change in libya you saw most recently when american warships fired missiles into syria immediately the democrats came on board and cheered this this
goes quite there's a history in american political history it's called the doctrine of american exceptionalism and that's really where you find this doctrine itself all right let me let me let me go to let me use to close here ok let me let me go to let me go to michael in genetic change i mean let me go to michael in washington need to get his take on what my question and what you just said there michael what happened in during the campaign we heard very many different things so i mean they did trump cave in. did he sensually was given some kind of ultimatum and this is our way or no way i mean what do you think the thinking is there because i don't think in our lifetime there's been such a stark difference from a candidate to a sitting president in such a short amount of time go ahead michael in washington thank you peter i actually agree with your question and with much of what thomas. just said although i would couch it somewhat differently i think there is a lot of continuity and it is partly because of the very generals who are now in
important positions that you mentioned in your introduction i think it does reflect that the united states like most powers has interests that actually are more durable and structural than political candidates sometimes like to admit and i wouldn't put it in quite the same terms as thomas i do think that president trump would like to get along with president putin for example better than obama or clinton's instincts might have been and i think trump has less of a pro democracy agenda abroad he's less interested in nation building or in fomenting democratic movements and of course that was a good part of the disagreement between president putin and predecessors whether that was the color revolutions in the former soviet space or some of the american actions in the broader middle east so i think trump would like to minimize that but he still finds himself in a conundrum he still got alliances in korea in the middle east and elsewhere and he still got alliances in europe and these things create pressures so i'm not against what he's doing but i would agree with your point that there's been
a big change from him as a candidate to him as president less so a change from obama to trump as presidents ok patrick let me go to you i mean in a way i agree with michael and thomas but broadly for very different reasons i mean i suppose we all agree here the neo cons are back with a vengeance but i don't see why anyone should be happy about that i see thirty years of absolute utter failure and now we have the consensus that this failure is what will continue i don't get this here ok and all of the generals you know that the generation we have right now i mean they're all part of that ok well we don't have the name specific names of that mindset is there so you know there is continuity i don't see why there anyone should be happy about it go ahead patrick in london. well if you look at the genealogy of this situation you go back to the campaign and donald trump wanted to differentiate himself from the field in the republican field and then of course with hillary clinton and one of the big knocks
from the sort of conservative in the tea party wings in the united states over the last few years was obama is weak with the military and generals were resigning because in protest of obama and he's a weak president so tom trump took his talking point with vigor and so he position himself early signal that i will be deferring all majors assistance to the so-called experts the generals as he put it and so by doing that he sort of disempowered himself very early on by by telegraphing that position which in hindsight i would say from a leadership point of view is a big mistake and now now fast fast forward into the administration itself now the problem of what we have here is not so much about policy but it's about public perception and expectations because if you look at barack obama he took the exact same tact as donald trump marketed himself as a peace president and that got him elected and arguably that was one of his strongest in two thousand and eight so donald trump just took you know
a line from obama's playbook play the exact same line and look at obama he broke every single campaign promise he put up there from closing get mode to drawing down you know troops from iraq and afghanistan ok let me go to thomas i mean you like in a way we're all kind of agreeing here i mean is it did power of these institutions in the security apparatus in that and the defense department i mean they just so strong that they need there's no such thing that a candidate can change that cannot change the course of the ship as it were go ahead thomas. there are several factors involved and trumps about the first thing is one should be cautious about reading. too much into his statements before the election he was a but you know he had no experience in washington he was running as an outsider so he could say outsider rich things sure without cost and actually with benefit then he becomes president and when you arrive in washington the pressures are absolutely
tremendous to conform there are so many powerful interests around the president to make him conform i also think by the way that trump's inclination is neo con that's who he is he's he's a is a bit of a bully it's a neo-con doctrine is aggressive and simplistic and that's going to appeal to him so it's in some ways it's a natural resting point for him now on top of that he once the democrats made this decision to make russia the focal point of their loss to try and explain their awful failure and sort of shift the blame to russia then that began to put more pressure on trump sure in two ways first first it began to uncover his dealings with the russians in the past both his real estate dealings where you know real estate is about the most corrupt business in there is except for garbage collection and then also it began to uncover the dealings of flynn and donald jr with the
russians where i think actually the sort of the russians rather entrapped trump with the promise of some dirt on hillary clinton that probably didn't what is it what did that have to do with the election but what did any of that have to do with be a little you know that don't do a good example. conspiracy theory go ahead go ahead please do let's not let's not let's not get into that let's not get into that question i didn't either i didn't want to do once that became yeah yeah once that became the focal point of the democrats. attack on trump then that opened the door for the neo cons to put pressure on trump and then what does trump trump as a tremendous politico wonderful political intuition that people under underestimate are and on the neocon. and the democrats are coming after him so he's going to out on the neo-con but by embracing them and being even more neo con so it's in part for him it's a tactical adjustments a very interesting one of their own way this is the way he did it's
a very very he defends himself and this is the way the neocons take over the administration michael in washington. do you i think it's unprecedented we have a president that has so many former military staff generals in service and retired i mean this is that that's and that create a different mindset about looking at security and military policy when inside the white house and not the pentagon go ahead michael. thank you peter just one quick point though on this neo-con issue and as you know even though i agree with much of what's being said i'm a little more sympathetic to the fact the president has wound up in these more traditional positions i probably agree with them more yeah and they maybe that explains it i think when you look at the options that he had when you look at the options they really had on afghanistan or north korea or what have you it wasn't necessarily a neo-con desire to remake the world in an american image or a more democratic image it was because he didn't see good options he didn't see other ways to break out of the mainstream thinking if we can debate whether or not
to do it i don't think i could but i think it's a little different but don't you think it's neal common ideas that god is seeing these messes in the first place i mean i think that needs to be discussed as in some cases ok i keep going michael you're going to get in some cases that's true going to have it going ok but yes on the general's. one good thing about this group of generals that i know them all and i like them all they have all been through the mess of the middle east of the last fifteen years they have learned first hand if they if we didn't know it before the limitations of applying military power i don't think any of them would say that they're happy about what the last fifteen years have brought us in the broader middle east or the sacrifice that we've had to undertake as a result of our own decisions so i think you're going to see a little bit more strategic savvy and reluctance to use force out of this group of generals and that gives me some encouragement ok gentlemen to jump in here we're going to go to a short break and after that short break we'll continue our discussion and.
well i don't but i don't know. the marshal and. islamic states claims it was behind the manchester terror attack by the militants front so kill the priest every time a terrorist attack happens all these people are out there screaming to go ice is so bad someone needs to do something against them and for me it was like yeah why don't. you. know all. about it if you.
welcome back across the uk where all things are considered i'm peter we're discussing trump and his generals. go back to patrick in london i had a great question i was going to ask you but i think at the end of the first segment you get such an expression but i think i'll just give you the floor go ahead patrick. yeah. kind of a got a problem with this deference to the generals for instance you know you look at the resumes of all of these so-called generals war heroes or what have you the david petraeus of the world the resume is chalk full of failures scandals and otherwise international embarrassment some of the biggest foreign policy failures in u.s. history so there's nothing to celebrate their afghanistan is not
a success it never made sense from the beginning and it still doesn't make sense now ditto with iraq you have all these sages who did the surge for instance so it's just to put any too much patting on the back of the military i think the problem in this discussion the real problem is the united states has no foreign policy and to say that the united states ever had any interests if you want to talk about national security interests there are none the u.s. has corporate interests defense industry interests and the interest of israel in regards to the so-called neo conservative agenda in the middle east it's an israeli agenda israeli led agenda and this is a president that is very chummy with benjamin netanyahu and he's appointed his son in law as a middle east envoy who's a property developer and a website owner and otherwise a small tycoon from manhattan i mean what is this this is a complete disaster in terms of u.s. diplomacy and foreign policy it's
a problem that's. a ticking time bomb potentially diplomatically no leadership the generals or whoever the pentagon is running various aspects of u.s. foreign policy and meanwhile how awful washington doesn't seem to have gotten the memo that we lost in syria. syria was not a civil war syria was a proxy war we spent billions of dollars we flooded the region with weapons peoples heads should be on the tropic block well in the legal sense for that and no one's talking about this and blaming rove various other we're talking we're talking about and i think a good part of media should be on the same chopping the chopping block thomas let me go back to what. i want to want to just reiterate something that i'm very concerned because it seems to me that i'm going to be objective here and fair i mean military people how they see things and then they create objectives but it's a very narrow way of thinking about things and i worry that you know having so many generals you know surrounding the president that they will have
a different way to deal with problems and usually you know in accompli they don't have to worry about what happens next i mean these guys have any experience in that you know this is what i find very troublesome because in the military you have objectives not necessarily policy go ahead thomas. peter let me say a the several things we said first with got to patrick i so agree with the the details of his description but those elements about being corporate interest is really interested fence interests national interest is always defined in terms of the dominant interest and that is the dominant interest today and that's something we in the united states need to recognize that's our debate about what should be our national interest not that now the next thing we do understand why the generals are in charge of it it's there's a reason for the white the white house has been chaotic and it hasn't been working and this is been a real fear for the establishment in to have a sort of a loose cannon like trump running around and this is the way that the establishment
gets in there through generals who have a real sense of awe of mission loyalty to institution these are talented educated men and this is the way to put sort of put some walls around that loose cannon now the next thing is then what do does that do to u.s. policy does it become more militaristic and that's actually quite a complicated question and i put three little pots on the table the first is you have to look at existing conflicts generals do not do a good job at cutting their losses westmoreland wanted to stay there vietnam sure that the american military is just over supplied with resources they've just like they will not cut their losses and run because we give them too much when it runs the wrong word cut the losses and leave sensibly because we give them too much resources so that's bad that's why we're staying in afghanistan that's the advice that one out with obama and that's going to continue with trump now the next part is new conflicts there i do think the military these generals do
a good job they're very careful about getting into new conflicts they are they are concerned about the men and women that they command they don't want to be the cause of death they want an exit strategy they want to know that it's for a purpose so i think that at least in the past american the american military was reserved about get. new conflicts so i have to reservations i think that is changing for two reasons one reason is that the whole country has become more nationalistic and more neo conservative that's the dominant way of thinking of it general are drawn from our population. so i don't think that i don't think that's true i do think there is evidence there is evidence let me go to michael let me know ok i need for equal time for everyone here let me go to michael here ok ok ok one one of the one of the reasons why i wanted to do this program is that everyone people that have been watching this program knew that i was anyone but hillary i made that very clear and i was very skeptical about donald trump but i did like what he had to say about foreign policy you know about talking about these
orthodoxies which i think need need to evolve or come to an end and i disagree with what thomas just said here i think the country is tired of these wars these senseless wasteful wars that really damage american america's image in the world i know i live abroad i feel it all of the time you know so you know america is that neil come on america wants to end this agenda and you know what they're getting they're getting the short end of the stick again go ahead michael. well i do agree with you peter that the neo con is not quite the right way to describe the national mood although i thought thomas's analysis was actually i agree i agree the tendencies of generals not to want to lose. which wars they tend to want to win and which wars they want to stay out of that was a very useful distinction which i appreciate in terms of the national mood and just to go along with your point peter if we look at the middle east and build on patrick's concern about our relationship with israel i have some concerns about our relationships under president trump with egypt and saudi arabia because i don't
think he cares very much about the human rights agenda or the democracy agenda he's willing to essentially tolerate their internal policies because they are loyal allies and we know that there is some utility to not getting overly obsessed with pro human rights proto. and that's where neo conservative thinking can go too far but i'm concerned that trump is actually falling back on a pure realist approach to the world and in regard to saudi arabia and egypt i don't much like it so i think there's a lot of nuance here as to what's driving and what his world view is i would again i would not describe it as neo con i would describe it as more realist ok patrick what's wrong with that realist foreign policy we haven't tried it for a while we what's wrong with that ok and i am and i'm going to say you know we should have concerns about human rights in the software issues as well that we shouldn't be completely dismissed but a realist foreign policy identifies your real interest in that and then you can pursue how to protect them go ahead patrick. there's nothing wrong with
a realist foreign policy any reasonable sane person would agree with that but unfortunately those people who inhabit the beltway are not reasonable and on the on the whole not sane our relationship and our policy with saudi arabia has nothing to do with human rights never has never will saudi arabia is a great client for our military defense contractors bumper year great arms sales by one of the greatest arms sellers in history barack obama continuing with trump is doing the same thing with the signaling to north to south korea to open up the sort of the spending modules there so this this reality is continuity as change and so look at our defense budget up twenty percent so six hundred billion to seven hundred billion that is what matters in united states in terms of foreign policy it's how much money is being spent on defense russia's defense budget what is it eighty billion and we just upped our defense budget by more than the totality of
the russian defense budget and there's you know still pushing these conspiracy theories in washington the rush is somehow a global threat to you know hedge of money of the world order and so forth so it's kind of ridiculous to even suggest that human rights plays any part in any of this it does it hasn't it didn't in libya they lied all the way to get the u.n. resolution in libya based on fraudulent claims of human rights violations by susan rice and many others they did the same thing in syria by spinning up a whole program of lies about barack obama on assad's assad butchering his own people and all this other stuff and moderate rebels and so all these people in washington who profit off this whether they're in think tanks whether they work for the defense industry whether a lobbyist for the defense industry or whether the congressman's are senators cashing checks from those interest industries those are the people that are keep pushing this unrealistic form called sandra. unrealistic were right you were
rapidly running out of time thomas and i go back to you in washington i have a quick theory for you to analyze here the democrats in the media don't want to see trump accomplish anything and then in the terms of foreign policy. sway him into more of a neo con position in that will alienate his base that essentially neuters him on both sides what do you think. that's too broad for me to have an opinion it's clear that they should not be seen as t.v. they shouldn't want our entire presidency because he'd be ok i'm sorry it's t.v. i'm not you i'm just not used to that. they obviously they shouldn't want trump to succeed the more the more successful he is the less successful they will be i think the democrats are but behind this. in cahoots with this neo con agenda they've bought into it i am very apprehensive about this democracy test that michael was talking about democracy is just such a difficult flower to make flourish it needs
a history of preparation and we have to we have to draw back from that because it then becomes cover cover that smells good for neo-con engagement with the world so i'm going to release that can only it only smells good in washington ok because people like that smell ok and then it gets detached from reality here one minute michael in washington the same question might smite my little theory they're made for television go ahead my friend one minute. well my hope peter is that president will be able to develop this relationship with russia that i think he clearly wants which does distinguish him from his predecessors or at least the end of their terms and i think distinguishes him from neo cons he wants to be a little bit more pragmatic i've just finished a book beyond nato proposing a neutral zone in eastern europe that i would hope president trump and i will be. your book and i will buy your book ok because we're getting
a little bit closer to that idea that i read to you a little bit closer over the years yes. and that at all thank you and that's the kind of idea that i'd like to see people be able to consider and get beyond some of the histrionics and disagreements of past years we've got to find a way for the world's two great nuclear superpowers to repair their relationship and i agree with that basic sentiment so i hope that all the other issues are i don't you know for every contaminate any opportunity we've run out of time here and remarkably we ended on a realist note many thanks to my guests in washington and in london and thanks to our viewers for watching us here at r.t.c. you next time and remember. those bridges for
a single purpose. of. training very young. the months of intensive school. reps. and they save lives. it is and was a situation like israel and palestine is not a country where i meet a lot of people without hope although everybody agrees. is a very serious situation people have been much more than in any other active conflicts to date.
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lips. we can all middle of the room sit. in the. room. donald trump shows little faith in new u.n. sanctions against north korea and warns of tough first steps should the country fail to abandon its nuclear ambitions a big deal those sanctions are nothing compared to what ultimately the world after . the road to rocka a new all t.v. documentary tells the stories of those fine tuning to drive islamic state from one of its last syrian strongholds. and the head of the world anti-doping agency confirms ninety five of ninety six russian athletes from nine different sports have been cleared of any wrongdoing.